tv PBS News Hour PBS December 24, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: good evening. i'm jeffrey brown. last-minute shopping helped bolster a surprisingly good holiday season for retailers. >> warner: and i'm margaret warner. on the "newshour" this christmas eve, we talk to retail analyst dana telsey about what's behind the strong sales numbers. >> brown: then, we hear from new mexico governor bill richardson, just back from north korea. >> warner: lindsey hilsum of "independent television news" reports on iraqi christians forced to flee in the face of anti-christian violence. >> christianity's been here for 2,000 years. but the killings, bombings and
attacks of the last few weeks may have tipped the balance. people want to go. >> brown: we examine the uptick in illegal harvesting of holiday greenery from the forests of washington state. >> warner: mark shields and michael gerson analyze this week's news. ♪ >> brown: plus, we take a second look at paul solman's story about a great composer who was also a smart investor. that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> auto companies make huge profits. >> last year, chevron made a lot of money. >> where does it go? >> every penny and more went into bringing energy to the world. >> the economy is tough right now, everywhere. >> we pumped $21 million into local economies, into small businesses, communities, equipment, materials.
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: retailers had high hopes for business this christmas eve. the season could turn out to be the best in several years or even better. shoppers flooded stores and malls across the country with time running out. >> i am shopping for everybody. i know it's christmas eve and i waited until the last minute. >> brown: for store managers, it was a welcome sight. >> everyone's been coming around last minute. we still have a lot of items but we're running out of things really fast. >> brown: the national retail federation predicted seasonal business would top $451 billion, up more than 3% from last year. a big finish in the week after christmas could push that total
past the all-time record set in 2007. >> things are little bit better for us this year, the past two years i would say were a little more touch and go. >> there seems to be a lot more energy this year, too, just in malls, when you go, a lot more people. so it makes you think that things might be getting better. >> brown: demand was especially and online gift spending was up 15% from a year ago. some chains like best buy allowed shoppers to order online as late as this afternoon and then pick up merchandise at the store by closing time tonight. >> i believe about 5:00, 6:00 it's going to be very, very busy. people are going to be kicking the doors down to get their last minute product. >> brown: even with healthy holiday sales, other indicators this week raised questions about the state of the economy. the number of people filing for jobless benefits was down to 420,000, suggesting fewer layoffs. but the figure would need to drop below 375,000 consistently to signal real improvement.
and the housing market remained a drag on the economy, with new home sales in november among the weakest in decades. still, for today at least, american consumers brought some christmas cheer to their loved ones and to a national economy much in need of good news. so, amid the hubbub in the and for more we're joined by dana telsey. she heads a company that tracks the retail industry. where is the retill action this season. what sectors are the highest? >> happy holidays. the sectors, luxury goods doing very well. footwear is doing very well and anyone who wants an ipad that certainly seem to be the gift of choice this holiday season. >> brown: how much is due to big discounts and sales, what impact would that have, might that have on retailers' profits? >> i think that the discounts that we're seeing out there, they're planned. one of the things that's changing for the holiday season
overall is retailers are planning with promotions, buy one, get one, 30% off the whole store for limited time period. then retailers game plans, the holiday season was a solid one for most of the retailser this year. >> brown: what about things like retailers offering free shipping. how aggressive did retailers feel they had to be as opposed to the last couple of years we've seen? >> i think one of the things is they don't have as much inventory this year as they have had in seasons past. high ticket items are selling, in terms of their profits i think we'll see good fourth quarter, certainly january will tell the tale. in terms of online, still online is a small portion of overall retail sales, but it picks up for the holiday season. they felt they had to be promotional but not oaferlly. >> brown: the weak economy, the bad unemployment, how do you square that with what we're seeing in the retail season, also given what you are saying
to us are the key areas for what people are buying. >> i think one of the things is the numbers aren't get knowledge worse. the volitility and instability that we saw over the past two years is changed in 2010 head knowledge in to 2011 we're beginning to see some signs of recovery and the word that feels better is out there. with unemployment for college-educated consumers around 5% you are seeing comfort factor to consumers wanting to spend again. certainly at the low end they're watching very carefully and that's why we're seeing some of the discounters and lower price retailers being careful about average transactions and also average dollar value. >> brown: before i let you go, the last minute shoppers, procrastinators are men. all the stores know that and push the things for men or the last minute jewelry gifts up to the front of the store is that correct? >> i've seen that, too, hopefully that will help our mid single digit forecast come in a
little bit better this holiday season. >> brown: dana telsey, thanks so much. >> thank you. >> warner: still to come on the "newshour": governor richardson's trip to north korea; christians fleeing iraq; greenery smuggling in washington state; shields and gerson and the business side of a christmas classic. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: celebrations began around the world on this christmas eve. bethlehem-- the traditional birthplace of jesus-- was aglow with huge light displays, as thousands of pilgrims gathered outside the church of the nativity. officials said the turnout could be the largest ten years. elsewhere, pope benedict the sixteenth held an evening mass at the vatican. security was tight, a day after parcel bombs were sent to two foreign embassies in rome. christmas eve was anything but a time of celebration for thousands of air travelers in europe. a new round of snow and ice caused new delays, just as problems from earlier in the week had begun to clear. at paris' charles de gaulle airport, planes sat on the
tarmac today after a shortage of de-icer fluid cut takeoffs in half. beds and blankets were brought out, but for many people, there was no end to the frustration. >> ( translated ): this is the third day we have waited in the airport. we waited for six hours today just to get to the air france information desk. they have promised us a flight for tomorrow, but tonight we are just on a waiting list. we'll wait and see. we might have a hotel for tonight, we'll have to wait after tonight's flight leaves. there it is, we are enjoying our christmas eve. >> sreenivasan: airports in dublin, ireland and brussels, belgium also ran short of de- icing fluid in the unexpected cold. in pakistan, about 150 militants launched simultaneous assaults on five security posts in the northwest. the coordinated raids happened in the mohmand tribal area, near the afghan border. the ensuing firefights with government troops lasted for hours. pakistani officials reported 11 soldiers and two dozen insurgents were killed. india's financial capital mumbai was on high alert today as police searched for four men believed to be plotting a terror
attack. the police commissioner said they were already in the city. militants based in pakistan carried out the 2008 mumbai siege that killed 166 people. police said the four men being sought today belong to the same group. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: it was quieter on the korean peninsula today than it's been all week, but north and south remained on edge. north korea marked the 19th anniversary of ruler kim jong il becoming supreme military commander. the celebration came on the heels of this week's forceful displays of south korean might-- on land and air, with two days of well-publicized live-fire drills. despite threats beforehand, the north did not respond militarily. but state-run media condemned the war games as a south korean plot. >> ( translated ): the puppet warmongers are doing it to scheme a war to invade north korea. >> warner: and a senior north
korean defense official warned his country would wage a sacred war using nuclear weapons, if it's attacked. the war of words was the latest sign of rising tensions on the peninsula. in march, north korea torpedoed a south korean warship, killing 46 sailors. and last month, the north shelled a south korean island in disputed waters, killing four. this morning on abc, vice president biden suggested a reason for the north's recent aggression. >> going through a power transition that great leader is about to and has designated his young son to be his successor i'm sure whether is a lot of muscle flexing in the near term to satisfy the military that the successor will be able to handle the deal. but it is dicey, it is reason for concern.
>> warner: amidst all this, new mexico governor bill richardson returned monday from a private visit to pyongyang. he said north korean officials told him they were willing to re-admit international nuclear inspectors, sell their spent nuclear fuel rods and establish a north-south hotline to resolve conflicts. but in washington, state department spokesman p.j. crowley said the u.s. has little reason to believe north korean promises. >> north korea talks a great game. they always do. the real issue is what will they do. >> warner: a south korean foreign ministry-linked think tank predicted today tensions will remain high, and said the north may be planning a third nuclear test next year. and with me now from santa fe is new mexico governor bill richardson. a former u.n. ambassador, he's been to north korea seven times over the past 16 years, to help free shot down helicopter pilots, recover remains of american servicemen killed during the korean war and to promote nuclear disarmament on the peninsula.
and governor, well cook, thanks for joining us on this christmas eve. >> thank you, merry christmas to all of you. >> warner: you're one of the few americans who has history ever meeting with north korean officials on the ground there. what was the atmosphere of the talks this time? what was their attitude? >> well, it was different than in other times in two ways. the first difference was, the state of tension in north korea over the drills and in the entire peninsula was the highest and most negative that i'd ever seen. the second is that there is a new core of north korean officials that i was dealing with in the foreign ministry. in the defense department in the military, and i was encouraged because there was more of a pragmatic streak in this core of policy makers than i'd seen in the past, yes, they always gave their standard lines, their
propaganda, but when i suggested these initiatives that you mentioned, the inspectors, the sail of the fuel rods, hot lines, they were more open to talking about them, because they knew this they really made some horrendous mistakes with the shelling of that south korean ship, the killing of those sailors, the killing of the civilians on that island, the increased nuclear activity. i detected a little bit of pragmatism. finally when i said, "look, it makes no sense to retaliate militarily, this is routine south korean drill" and it makes sense that you send a message, a big message by simply not responding. so i see a little hope. i agree that you got to see deeds and not words that their credibility is not the best. but i just worry that the tension is so high, there is such such a potential for miscalculation. we have 27,000 american troops there. i worry a lot, margaret.
>> warner: what tells you that they realize they have made a mistakes as you put it? what do they say? >> well, they realize, they didn't actually respond to me when i said, look, you made horrendous mistakes. they did -- >> warner: they didn't protest, didn't say, no, it's all the south's fault? >> they weren't as vehement as they used to be in the past. and my sense when i proposed those arms control initiatives, when i told them that they shouldn't react militarily, maybe it made an impact on them. look, i'm not taking credit for this i'm simply saying that, maybe there's an opportunity now, you just mentioned that the north koreans and the south koreans techss have lessened a bita quiet day. maybe they're not going to respond again. they had this huge rhetoric propaganda that they put out nuclear weapons, that's the public side.
on the private side this time in contrast to others that i visited i sense a little more openness, pragmatism. but they got to prove themselves, they got to show that they are serious. >> warner: all right. now let's look at one of these promises they made to you or assurances, one about let inspectors back in. now, did they put conditions on that? did they say what the situation would be? what do they have in mind? >> well, it was my proposal, margaret. what i said is, look, you expelled iaa inspectors you got out of the nonproliferation treaty, a good step would be to permit iaaea inspectors to come in to the facility to see that you're not enriching uranium. that you're not moving centrifuges, they said we'd be prepared to do that, we want to call the monitors not inspectors. but we'd be prepared to discuss that with the south in addition to selling -- they have got
about 12,000 spent fuel rods, fresh spent fuel rods that they are ready to sell. look, they have to be tested, i'm not saying they're going to do. this but they acquiesced, they agreed to this. hopefully some kind of mechanism, the u.n. envoy or six-party talks or diplomacy some of kind can push in that direction because you can't keep having this tension on that peninsula. there's too much of a potential for a powder keg, for a tinder box situation to happen. >> warner: you know what people in the administration say, that of course north korea wants six-party talks to resume or talks about the talks. meanwhile, they're going to continue their uranium enrichment. they showed off a new plant to a stanford scientist as you know. i think it was a month ago. the u.s. is saying, we can't reward them for bad behavior. why don't they start behaving better and we might look in to
this. what do you say to that? >> well, i briefed administration officials yesterday, two different briefings, and obviously that was raised. look, i'm not necessarily disputing that, but if we continue to promote policies that don't lead us back to six-party talks, yes, they have to demonstrate some kind of movement, let's give him a chance to do that. but i think shutting the door -- i'm not saying the administration is doing that. there are different voices in the administration, some more pragmatic than others. i'm just saying the status quo right now is not good. there's the most tension there's ever been. you don't want miscalculation regarding our allies the south koreans and north koreans. there is a little bit ever an opening now. i detected that. i am the only one to talked to north korean officials like in the last six months and i'm not
perfect, i'm a citizen diplomat. i went there on my own, i was invited by the north koreans and maybe they wanted to send a message through me. who knows. but i think the status quo is unacceptable. >> warner: very briefly before we go. do you think any serious engagement is possible as long as this succession is taking place the one that vice president biden referred to or kim jung ill wants to hand to have his son? >> well, i do agree with the vice president that they wanted to look strong and perhaps this is one of these very strong military actions have taken place. but i also sense that that transition is probably already taking place. although i did detect in some low level and mid level bureaucrats that they're not entirely pleased with that succession. they were questioning it, they're not going to stop it. but i think that has kind of happened already. transition is in place.
>> warner: let me" rich you, they said something negative 'doubt king jung ill's son? >> they didn't directly say it. these were inside bar conversations, social conversations. they didn't criticize him directly but there was a little uneasiness how the succession had taken place. a designation of the third son. nobody knows much about it. >> warner: governor richardson, thank you so much. >> thank you, margaret. >> brown: next: even as christians around the world celebrate christmas, many churches in iraq have cancelled festivities. lindsey hilsum of "independent television news" explains why. >> reporter: a brother, maybe a son, lost in the bombing of the
church of our lady of salvation in baghdad in october. more than 300 worshipped here then. now, only a forlorn gathering of survivors remain. bullet holes and blood stains emblems of the fear christians feel in iraq this christmas. while it's safer in baghdad for most people now, islamist extremists are targeting those they call infidels. maybe a million christians lived in iraq before the war, but more than half have left and others are following. standing here in this church in baghdad, it isn't hard to understand why christians want to leave. christianity's been here for 2,000 years. some people still speak aramaic, the language jesus spoke. but the killings, bombings and
attacks of the last few weeks may have tipped the balance. people want to go. security camera footage from the building opposite shows what happened. the terrorists, believed to be linked to al qaeda, climbed over the wall. there was shooting all around. then they exploded gnades and suicide bombs as they held the congregation hostage. amongst the dead, uday eashoue and his four-year-old son, adam. uday's mother and sisters can't bear to go to church now, not even for christmas mass. they scarcely dare leave their home. now uday is gone, i feel i've lost my world, as if the world doesn't exist anymore. i don't want to leave baghdad. i don't want to leave the country. but now that this has happened, i fear for my daughters. >> reporter: her husband talks to the police who've belatedly been tasked to protect christian
houses, several of which were attacked after the church bombing. he's bitter that they felt safer in the time of saddam hussein. >> ( translated ): we don't want to leave, because we've watered this country's soil with our blood for thousands of years, and this is a christian civilization, with christian history, but what has happened has made us hate the country which doesn't protect us and our children. >> reporter: 200 miles north of baghdad, the autonomous kurdish region has provided some sanctuary. since the church bombing, a thousand christian families have fled here. amongst them, zuhair and amal's nephew and niece-- we met them in a church because although kurdistan is generally secure the only town where they can afford to stay isn't. they didn't want to show their faces. >> ( translated ): you want to sit outside in the morning and
breathe fresh air, to feel life is good, but you sit and you're afraid, you go shopping and you're afraid, you go for a walk somewhere and you're afraid. what kind of life is this? iraq has become a hell. >> ( translated ): even though it's christmas, and we love this festival, what can we do? we are sad at the moment, so we won't celebrate. >> reporter: we drove to the seventh century monastery of rabban hormizd at al qosh. at its foot, sits st. catherine's, where the monks are sheltering some 20 families who fled the northern town of mosul- - nineveh in the bible-- in november after a spate of attacks. hanna left after her neighbor's house was bombed and her children were threatened. life, she says, was better before the u.s. invasion. she doesn't want her surname broadcast. >> ( translated ): we were happy and getting on with our lives, but as soon as the americans came into the country this is what happened to us!
they say to us, the americans are your people, they're christians. they say you brought them here. and they kill us for it. >> reporter: there were once 300 monks here. now there are only 10. as islamist groups become more powerful and in places violent across the middle east, christian communities are diminishing, and nowhere faster than in iraq. >> in the middle east-- iraq, back in baghdad, there are fewer bombs on the streets these days. the minister for human rights, who happens to be a christian, says it's not a question of putting walls around churches, but providing security for all iraqis, whatever their religion. >> since 2003 everything in iraq has been damaged, we are rebuilding a new army, we are building a new police, it was the responsibility of the coalition force. and that means the situation in iraq is not just the responsibility of the iraqi
government, it is the responsible of all the world, all the countries who were part of the war. >> reporter: christmas service at st. george's, the only church in baghdad celebrating fully this year. canon andrew white, a church of england vicar, combines traditions-- a santa who might be at home in an english shopping center and the ancient eastern catholic rites. he's drafted in a sunni muslim sheikh, applauded when he says christians shouldn't be regarded as a minority but an integral part of iraq. canon white-- determined to stay in baghdad despite battling multiple schlerosis-- wants
others to stay, too. >> i ask people to stay because it's important that we maintain a christian presence here. christianity is like the root of iraq. if you cut the root, you cut iraq and it's finished. >> reporter: the new iraqi government will have to move fast if it's to stop the exodus. this is a christmas full of sorrow and for many christians, probably their last in iraq. >> warner: now, the illegal harvesting of holiday greenery. the story is part of our series, "newshour connect." tonight's report comes from lesley mcclurg of kcts seattle. >> reporter: son chau came to the united states in the early '80s to escape the communist
government in vietnam. >> from kampuchea in like south part of vietnam. >> reporter: he and his wife found work in our local forests. >> we go to find a job, they pay no good. not enough for family. three kid. $8 or $9 not enough. >> reporter: the chaus are among thousands of immigrants from mexico, guatemala and southeast asia who work in the woods harvesting boughs for christmas wreaths, ferns and flowers for bouquets and mushrooms and medicinals for pharmaceuticals. son chau has an annual permit from green diamond timber company to harvest a plot of land. at the end of day he sells his goods to a wholesaler like lyle skillman at brothers united. >> during the year we buy salal, huck, bear-grass, curly willows, flat ferns, maybe eight different items. >> reporter: brothers united is one of many wholesalers in shelton washington who sell secondary forest products. these include any item other than trees harvested from the
woods. it's a multi-billion dollar international trade and important to our local economy. according to the department of labor and industries, these specialty goods are estimated to bring in $236 million to washington state. >> we just shipped about eight truckloads so this is like really empty. between now and friday well do between ten to 12 trucks. when we start shipping the last week of october through december 15, we probably do in excess of 100 semi-loads of salal and christmas products and finished wreaths and there are companies that do 300 plus. >> reporter: but the industry might be growing too fast. simple greens have become such red hot commodities, it has sparked a black market of illegal harvesting. >> they come to steal here, steal a lot every year.
>> reporter: deputy jason sissen patrols the woods in mason county scouting for illegal harvesters. mostly alone, sissen monitors hundreds of thousands of acres >> basically the problem is huge, it's out of control at times. my agency does not have all the resources to cover it all. it is way larger a problem than we can handle. >> reporter: landowners like craig marbet from green diamond timber company work with pickers to try and keep any eye on the land. >> reporter: thieves left this bundle behind in a midnight raid a few weeks ago. >> you could see where they probably waited until a vehicle came. the vehicle came by, they loaded it up quickly, and off they went. >> reporter: illegal harvesting is not only a financial loss for landowners and pickers. experts say our forests are taking a beating. because when an area is poached, it's often slashed without any concern for re-growth.
>> i careful because i work to just take the bough, a little bit of money, but the tree that more money. why they kill this? in the future, it will be that the tree dies. >> reporter: thieves target older growth trees as well. poachers typically scale a tree, strip it for its branches and then sell just the tips of the boughs to wholesalers. >> i'm still in shock just to see the damage they're willing to leave behind just to get a few bucks. >> reporter: as the market grows and competition increases the woods are becoming a dangerous place. pickers like son chau have been robbed. >> they take the gun and they put it to my head. >> reporter: others have been beaten up, and even shot in turf wars. >> the people that i come across, most of the time are armed with some sort of weapon. we're seeing the presence of gangs-- not gangs in the urban sense but people who are competing and even fighting over particularly rich areas of plant
harvests. >> reporter: ecologists like nalini nadkarni are trying to raise the red flag about smuggling. especially when it comes to environmentally delicate products like moss, which play a key role in a forests ecosystem by helping to regulate water. >> so when you strip branches and whole trunks off the way that moss has been harvested it takes literally 20 to 30 years for that to grow back and is clearly not sustainable. >> reporter: it's almost impossible to tabulate just how much brush is stolen from our forests every year. according to a 2005 study from oregon state university, the commercial sale of moss alone was around $165 million. that's enough moss to fill 4,850 semi trucks. but only 1% to 2% of that was harvested legally, the rest was all under the table. ecologists like nadkarni are working on the science to grow moss commercially, but until then she sees long term leases as the best alternative to preserve the land.
>> you have a vested interest in harvesting sustainable. if you grab everything that first year and out you run you may make a lot of money that first year but when you come back that second year there ain't nothing there. >> reporter: legal harvesters, like son chau, agree. luckily, he's had his lease from green diamond for over 20 years. something he and his family feel fortunate about. >> i work in the woods. it's a quiet place, fresh air. >> reporter: chau hopes it will stay that way. his livelihood depends on healthy forests. >> brown: and we turn to the analysis of shields and gerson. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "washington post" columnist michael gerson. david brooks is off tonight. welcome, gentlemen. mark, the president left town on wednesday proclaiming a season of progress, was he right and if so, how did it happen? >> he was right. it was a season of progress in the sense that level of
expectation especially after the 2nd of november's shellacking of the -- was quite low. democratic spirits were low, disheartened. even made further low down by the president's surprise tax deal with mitch mcconnell and then he went from being james buchanan to being a little teddy roosevelt by the end of having past start and stat treaty, don't ask don't tell, there were flashes. it was rather -- >> what a turn around. quite a transformation showing the restraint and measured good judgment of all our colleagues in the press. who over wrote and overreacted. no question that democrats were heartened by the fact that did he not look like he was going to be a push over in the next session. i think as much as anything.
>> brown: get back to the press. how did it happen? >> i do think it's mainly an indication that if a presidents is -- if he is willing to get a deal. eventually the second stimulus package was pretty much what republicans wanted the first time around on the stimulus package. even on the start treaty he gave specific assurances 'nut nuclear modernization and i think he gave republicans something got something in return. that's a reel contrast, for example, to the way that health care was passed in a march of partyline votes. and this is a different way of governing. i think it's important to say, though, that on the budget issues, the fiscal issues the republicans really didn't budge. they defeated the omnibus spending bill a trillion dollar package with 6700 rear marks. that i think is preview of the battle, is that we'll have in the next session. >> do you think in terms of lessons learned if we think about the president it was compromise, work with
republicans. >> i think you have to give something in order to get something. its usually the case. even when you're president of the united states. >> brown: who were the lessons learned? >> first of all, the president himself got more engaged. health care. i think there's no question that especially during that fallow four month period with the senate finance committee, health care languished when they were going to spike a deal with all these republicans and soos an the first tea party -- the first town meeting was held it was pretty eye parent. but still he didn't get personally involved and engaged the same way he did in this session. he did certainly on start, start was a great testimony to there is life after presidential campaign. john kerry did a masterful job. republicans acknowledged that, he is a stalwart on these. it was a signal victory in the sense that you defeated the two
leaders. republican party who are owl out against. mitch mccontinental and jon kyl were out against us totally and john mccain as time standed there. it was quite an achievement but i think the fact that the president himself was involved made a major difference. >> brown: will you continue with the lessons learned for republicans. what should republicans take from the last week or so? >> there's a lot of debate among republicans on these issues. some people saying that they rolled over in this last period. they didn't really have much choice. the president on the tax bill in particular we're going to end up in the four years of the obama administration with tax rates the same as when it began. which republicans would not have predicted in this circumstance. and so they had to take a victory in a certain way. they couldn't refuse it just to hurt the president. this is a case where the president's interests in growing economy are the country's interests. i think republicans here were put in a position, particularly
on those two votes, don't ask, don't till and start, those were more votes of conscience. i don't think that mcconnell and others pressed hard on those issues. then were in that category of votes of conscience. i think the fiscal issues are going to be the dividing ground here and going -- that's what we're going to see in the next time. >> it's on the lindsey graham quote was, when all is going to be said and done, harry reed has eaten our lunch. >> i saw that. it's interesting because lindsey graham if anything what i find about the republicans, i think mitch mccontinental is the epitome of this. is that the tea party is a major player. they are mindful of what happened in the 2010 primaries certainly mcconnell is mindful of what happened where his own favorite candidate, the secretary of state, was walked by the tea party. and so i think and dim demint
roams the sec at as the unofficial tea party leader. i think there's a lot of that going on even in lindsey graham who kind of succeeded to the john mccain role of the negotiator with the other side, he's pulled back, he's mindful, he's up in 2012. he's got primary challenge already announced against him in south carolina turned in a fierce border parole man on the immigration bill. i think there are lessons there for republicans. i think they were very -- understandably so democrats were done. they were full of themselves after -- >> don't forget this, entirely different cast of characters as of january 5th. all of a sudden 63 new republicans, michael mentioned the victory on the budget bill. in a strange way that's going to be a difficult moment for john. because it expires on the 4th of march the funding of the government does. and that's going to run right up to face the cheek to jowl with
the statutory raise of the debt ceiling. those are going to be tough votes, for john boehner as speaker much the house, i think it's going to be a tough sledding. >> so when you look ahead to next month and the new politics coming here, do we look at this past week or two as a kind of blip marking the end of an era or a harbinger of what might come in terms of compromise and getting some things passed? >> i do think that at least early months of the new term will be characterized by battles over health care, the republicans are absolutely committed to both oversight hearings to try to make the case against health care. and also to defund the implementation of health care which they did by opposing the bill which was intended for that purpose. so there will be huge battle on that. then huge battle on budget and fiscal issues.
president, that's going to be interesting the state of the union which i'm interested in, how he positions himself on this fiscal issue they already said this is going to be the folk you of his remarks. how does he turn that corner go towards this, does he talk about entitlement which are the real problem much. those are the big ishes. can he put the republicans own defensive. >> brown: what do you think when you look ahead. do you see this period continuing or -- >> look back on this period nostalgically. this is the height of cooperation and collaboration. cop cooperation and bibipartisanship, because in many question tucson, cooperation will be seen as collaboration. and may put one in political list for doing so. >> brown: another issue that he brought up at the press conference he was talking about his evolving thinking on gay marriage. after the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, there's some kind of momentum that you see for going
further? >> there are 30 years of momentum on the gay rights issue. really extraordinary change in american views and values. there is -- heroes of the gay right movement in this case, because it's really secretary gates and admiral mull enin the military that drove this through. they didn't want the courts to decide this. they wanted to do it on their own terms, so they made this decision to move forward. this is an issue where i think americans are very much decided that homosexualss should have equal rights. gay marriage is still very much a 50-50 debate in america, even if you have a vote in california one of the most liberal states in the country you get a vote against gay marriage. i think joe biden was right this week that the trend line is pretty clear on where this is headed. >> six years, in 2004 in the re-election of president bush it was an issue in number of states the same sex referendum. they were encouraged. support forward has doubled,
sort of legal, same sex marriage. even among republicans it's doubled. still only 25% of republicans favor it, unlike most democrats and independents. but i think there is a move. the president i think did something very smart, he tied the don't ask don't tell to service and sacrifice. these are people who love their country, who want to serve their country and willing to die for their country. who are we to deny them citizenship. i think he made the same argument for the green act which did not pass, which was latinos who grew up in this country, brought here by their parents, at the age of 5, 9 or 11 then want to again could serve in the military to reach citizenship status. i think he's making that same agriculture eye: i think it's a very persuasive argument. the sacrifice and civil rights
go with it. >> brown: let me in our last -- come back to the media bashing that you started. couldn't resist. >> i mean, at 10:00 in the morning on one cable station is ulysses grant. by noon the president has been transformed to a little bit of harry truman a doll low pressure of fdr and flashes of john kennedy. >> i saw it in government. the tendency to play the game of up-down, weak-strong that's the narrative of these arguments. they exaggerated the president's weaknesses certain way, the president, particularly in one or both houses of congress isn't irrelevant. he has significant role in this. exaggerated the upside or the upside now as well. this is a case where the president is going to face a whole new world in this coming year. there are at least 42 hard fiscal conservatives in the
senate that are going to control a lot. the new house leadership, he's going to face a different world. >> brown: and all had earmarks. couldn't resist. i know fiscal condeserve civil to open the definition. say tune. thanks so much. and happy holidays. >> thank you. >> warner: finally tonight, a second look at one of history's great composers and his winning investment strategies. our economics correspondent paul solman spends much of the year trying to make sense of the current financial news of our day. but tonight, he has a holiday story that harkens back to the economic conditions of another era. ♪
>> paul: handel rehearsing the mesiah at boston symphony hall. ♪ artistic director harry christophers. >> become a holiday piece. every major city, small town in the states. everybody does it. >> paul: everybody does it. because everybody else buys tickets. the messiah is a sort of savior of cash-strapped classical music. ♪ in fact, the link between the messiah and money goes back a long ways. it turns out composer george frederic handel, was not only a musical whiz but an entrepreneurial one. >> the dominant pattern in the 17th century as handel got started was you either work for
the church or the nobility. >> paul: harvard's mike sheer's written a classic on classical music and economics. quarter notes and banks notes. opera was the road to independence from the patron madge of court and clergy. >> the composers competed as freelancers to have their compositions chosen to be operas. >> paul: handel on royal retainer in london jumped in to the gauge according to m.mit. >> he probably would have gotten flat fee for writing the opera. and that probably was about 200 pounds. and he would have had a benefit night so he could take the box office from that one night. could have brought in 500 or 600 pounds. >> paul: the currency conversion website measuring worth calculates that would be
something like 800,000 pounds today. well over a million dollars. out of which however handel had to pay most of the expenses of production. >> paying for the orchestra musicians, paying for sets, costumes, opera has never been a really good money maker. we know this today. >> paul: furthermore inning bland it was art form imported from abroad. >> we had implication of opera, the implication of singers both the women singers and the costratt, who had the high voices. ♪ >> paul: daniel taylor is neither, but a counter tenor. >> their breath control was enormous, they had large ranges and they had enormous flexibility to sing the long, long runs. ♪
and they were really the superstars of the day. >> paul: expensive and to the english, somewhat off-putting. >> the british probably didn't like the people who were strutting along and being a pain in the neck and everything. handel always a businessman, always the opportunist, but saw this one, i'm going to change. >> paul: mike the messiah required no settle, no costumes, cheaper singers. >> he began using exclusively english singers. he had a very different cost ratio to his performances. and it's only with orotorio, is that he made really big money. >> paul: the messiah marks the turning point. >> that he goes exclusively to oratorio performances. he never does another opera. >> paul: it wasn't just
handleel cashing in that caught our attention. it was the success of handel the investor in the hot money security of his day, the south sea company formed to help finance the nearly broke english crown. >> the plan was that they would be large reresponsible for transporting african slaves from the african coast to the west indi,s or colonies. but that certainly was not happening in the 1710s and '20s they basically had no capital. >> paul: what they did have was a promise of fewer tour returns, some where, somehow. the south sea company were in a sense the mortgage bank securities of george and england and people mobbed to buy them in london's exchange ali. >> it's not so different from the kind of dodgey debt that people were invest in here in the past five and ten years. where there was no -- this idea that this was the root to
becoming rich quickly. and handel was -- he was young, he was an eager beaver. he saw all the upper class doing it. >> paul: isaac newton did it. because the securities kept rising in value. like this lord sharing his winnings, handel, who left london on business, cashed out. soon after, the south sea bubble burst. panic reigned, investors were dropping like stones. they were under water. >> handel was not involved because he got his money out. >> paul: in the next few years the south sea company backed by the equivalent of our fed reorganized it's. jailing the directors and creating a new bond issue paying a secure government-backed three to 5% for now safety conscious investors like george frederic handel. does that suggest he sobered up after the bubble burst and changed his investment strategy. >> yes, he was willing and eager
to take a risk and won. early on. and then when everything fell apart and the rebuilding process begins, he does not hesitate a minute to reinvest in the market but he uses a more conservative strategy. by going for bonds rather than for stock. and he does that for the rest of his life. ♪ >> paul: but for all her love of handel and his investment history, ellen harris thinks our use of the messiah to tell you about it might be something of a stretch. >> it's like saying, he lost his popular base of support and so ♪ he was the spited and rejected ♪ but then he died a rich man. ♪ hallelujah it's not what messiah is about. ♪ >> paul: it was, however, george frederic handel's art and business success is a cause for
celebration. handel was unusually successful and ended up leaving a fortune on the order of $20,000 sterling which in those days was a lot of money. >> paul: many millions in fact supporting charities to this very day and setting an example for composers forever after. ♪ >> brown: again, the major developments of this christmas eve: last-minute shopping helped bolster a surprisingly good holiday season for retailers and christmas observances began around the world. officials in bethlehem said turnout could be the largest in 10 years. and to hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, for what's on the "newshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: we pick up where paul left off with a video
up of performances of handel's "messiah" with contributions from local pbs stations, "newshour" staff and many others. find that on "the rundown." on "art beat," jeff wraps up a series of end of the year conversations. tonight, the most under- appreciated albums of the year. plus our readers and staff weigh in with lists of their favorite films, books and music. all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. margaret? >> warner: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on monday, we'll have the first of a two-part look at how the federal health care reform law is playing out across the country. i'm margaret warner. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online and again here monday evening. have a very merry christmas. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this was me-- best ribs in nelson county. but i wasn't winning any ribbons managing my diabetes. it was so complicated. there was a lot of information out there, but it was frustrating trying to get the
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